Meade incinerator plan may hinge on visit to Pa.

February 18, 1994|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Sun Staff Writer

A waste-to-energy incinerator in Lancaster County, Pa., may hold the key to whether a similar facility will be built at Fort Meade.

Col. Robert G. Morris III, garrison commander at Fort Meade, told the Greater Odenton Improvement Association Wednesday *T evening that the National Security Agency, one of Fort Meade's tenants, wants to locate a waste-to-energy incinerator at his installation.

He said he will visit the Pennsylvania plant next week. "If I don't like what it looks like, that will end right there," he said.

Waste-to-energy plants burn solid waste to produce electricity.

Most of the trash is consumed, reducing the amount of waste that must be trucked to a landfill.

The NSA has been exploring an incinerator as a potential emergency power source since August 1989, said NSA spokeswoman Judi Emmel yesterday.

"So far, our studies indicate a waste-to-energy project at Fort Meade would be highly cost-effective, and it would also afford what we think is a unique opportunity for federal government to partner with state and local governments and the private sector in developing a modern facility to manage the disposal of waste," she said.

County Council members visited the Pennsylvania incinerator in early January. A citizens panel studying the county's solid waste needs recommended in December that the county either build a waste-to-energy plant or join with other jurisdictions to build one.

"We would be open to any solution to waste management," including a waste-to-energy plant at Fort Meade, said Lisa Ritter, spokeswoman for the county department of Land Use and Environment, yesterday.

In February 1993, a spokesman for Colonel Morris' predecessor, Col. Kent D. Menser, said a waste-to-energy facility would be incompatible with Fort Meade's emerging role as an administrative facility emphasizing intelligence and education.

On Wednesday, Colonel Morris told the Odenton gathering, "If the Amish allowed a waste-to-energy plant to be built in Lancaster County, that's saying something."

The biggest advantage of an incinerator, he said, is that "the landfill issues would rapidly diminish and go away."

But several potential obstacles would have to be overcome before an incinerator could be built at Fort Meade, he said.

"Of course, it would take all three counties [Anne Arundel, Howard and Prince George's] to support it," he said, because of the large volume of trash needed to fuel such a plant.

A site for the proposed plant would have to be found, he said, and planners would have to devise a way to manage some 400 trucks a day that would haul trash to the plant.

Colonel Morris promised the Odenton residents they would have a say during the discussion of the proposal.

He said that before he can tell the Army he approves of the plan, "We've got a long way to go."

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